Does online education really work? 14 online learners share their experiences

Online education, training, programme, course, learning, student, online learner

We live at a time when artificial intelligence and robots are coming to take away routine jobs. With increasing number of online education websites, students and professionals are thus turning to their laptops and smartphones to add to their skill-sets.

Every employee now needs to be equipped with multiple skills to perform at an optimum level. In-demand technical skills now include Web Development, Android App Development, Python or C++ while sought-after management skills such as Business Communication, Advance Excel or Digital Marketing are also preferred.

By the year 2020, it’s estimated that 65 per cent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training according to the Georgetown Public Policy Institute.

If we are not updated with the latest skills, the future won’t have a job for us!

By the year 2020, it’s estimated that 65 per cent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training!

At the same time, the cost of degrees has skyrocketed, making them even more unattainable for people who cannot afford to leave the workforce to pursue a degree.

As a result, some leading universities are looking for new flexible and affordable ways to offer their degrees. MOOC websites are growing in popularity as people are learning coding, data science, languages etc. to add to their resume.

With many automated software making their presence felt in various job industries, you need to perform more creatively than a machine or code.

For that, you need to update your skills, but can online courses really help you?

The main problem with online learning

Online education has one major problem even if we do not consider that a large population of India doesn’t have access to the internet and cannot read English.

“Digital Learning has no doubt taken many students under its wing, with its increasing popularity. However, live and interactive digital learning aids students better and enables course completion. This is because sometimes, in pure self-learning the propensity to drop out from the course increases,” says Aditya Malik, CEO and MD of Talentedge, a website which offers live and interactive certificate and professional courses from premiere institutes.

“When you are learning online, at your own convenience, you tend to get distracted because of many other important things of your life. Live, online classes with faculty give learners the right kind encouragement, enabling them to make the most of the learning experience,” he adds.

When we learn alone, we can get bored and demotivated easily even if the course content and instruction method are good. With live and interactive learning methods, the physical classroom setting is more or less replicated which engages students better and provides motivation to complete the course.

“This format helps and urges them to devote proper time to the class otherwise self-study becomes a non-committal activity where one can easily get distracted unless one is extremely self-motivated and disciplined,” says Malik.

Online education can take away all boredom and tiredness associated with learning.

We spoke to 14 students and professionals who credit online education for their skill development and job status. Know more here:

1. Anurag Meshram

Joint Director of the Transformation Cell of the Indian Railways
Coursera user

Meshram completed his Master’s Degree at Cornell University in Industrial and Labor Relations, and used Coursera to fill the gaps in his studies.

“Coursera helped me get into a Master’s programme at Cornell University. Since my mathematics education ended after 10th grade, I was finding it difficult to get accepted into grad programmes. While searching for certification courses, I came across Coursera’s online education courses.

I earned certificates in Pre-Calculus: Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus: Functions and mentioned those in my statement of purpose when applying for my graduate degree.

Now, I am taking various courses related to my job. This year I have completed the course Data-Driven Decision Making by PwC and have learned the importance of data in decision making, which I am applying to my work at Indian Railways.”

2. Prashant T

Financial Analysis Prodegree
Imarticus learning user

“Having recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, I was weighing my options as to the relevant career path I could take. I was particularly keen on pursuing a career in finance, but realised that in order to do so, I would have to acquire specific skills that would set me apart from other candidates.

Unfortunately, training in skills like financial modelling or valuation is not something traditional universities and educational institutions offer.

Soon, I found out about Imarticus Learning and the range of courses it offers in the field of finance.

After thoroughly reading up on the courses and the potential career prospects each of them offered, I decided to enrol for the Financial Analysis Prodegree since it seemed like the best fit for me.

The content of the online education course was extremely engaging, and its innovative delivery through interesting case studies and live projects made the learning experience extremely satisfactory.

The highly experienced and easily approachable faculty also made it much easier to understand the concepts and have my doubts cleared anytime.

The course armed me with the essential knowledge and skills to accessing the emerging opportunities in the job market and achieve my goal of being a finance professional.”

3. Shivam Arora

Student of Allenhouse Business School, UP
Internshala user

“When I was in my second year of BBA, I went to an internship fair at DTU, Delhi. I remember how difficult it was for me to score an internship. I created my resume and started applying for internships but didn’t get selected to any, maybe because I didn’t have the right skills.

The rejections left me disappointed, and I stopped applying further. Then, I came to know about online education. I enrolled myself in three trainings — Advance Excel, Business Communication Skills, and Digital Marketing.

After the successful completion of the trainings, I reworded my resume and added these skills to it. I began applying to internships once again — this time I got selected for 4 out of the 6 internships I had applied to.

My dashboard that earlier showed ‘Not selected’ now showed ‘Hired’ or ‘In Touch’. Till date, I have successfully completed four internships and currently pursuing two.”

More and more workplaces are accepting certificates from online education websites.

4. Sanyam Bhutani

Flying Car Nanodegree Student, Deep Learning and Self-Driving Cars NanodegreeGraduate
Udacity user

“I graduated from my first nanodegree on Deep Learning last year which I had been warned is reserved for PhD students.

Six months Later, I was invited to present at an international conference. I then bagged an internship at IIT, all thanks to the knowledge from the Udacity Nanodegree!

Today I’m learning about flying cars and self-driving cars, and computer vision from the cutting edge practitioners from the industry, right from the comfort of my apartment, with a dream to work as a machine learning and computer vision practitioner someday.

The platform has exposed me to people from all over the world and knowledge outside of the classroom. I’m in my final year and I hope to use it to take a year of complete self-study via online education after graduation.”

5. Patricia Ribiero Pena

iMBA student
Coursera user

“I don’t think I would have been able to finish any kind of programme because after giving birth it was really hard. And having something in a modular structure that’s based on certificates makes the entire difference for me.

Getting my MBA makes me feel empowered because I don’t need to stop being myself, I don’t need to stop working, stop being a mother, stop having my life and that is everything for me.”

6. Gauri Jha

Homemaker, freelance writer
Coursera user

Jha took Learning How to Learn, a popular Coursera course with over 1 million enrolments, and found a lot of confidence that she had lost after leaving her career to be a mother.

‘Learning How to Learn’ helped me regain confidence in my learning capabilities. Having taken a break from the world of academics for almost a decade to take care of two children, I had sunk into this vicious cycle of failure and fear.

But now I have been making attempts to spring back with online education. I’m working on a few research papers with the conviction that I will succeed!

Another great course that I’d enrolled in was ‘English Composition’. It helped me get over the procrastinator in me and sit down to real writing business.”

7. Bhumsen S

Data Science Prodegree
Imarticus learning user

“Sometime back, when I was looking to make a career shift for better growth and stability, I discovered that several lucrative opportunities were emerging in the data science and analytics segment. The area also interested me greatly, and I decided that I would get myself trained in order to pursue a career in it.

However, when evaluating the courses offered by various institutes and educational platforms, I wasn’t impressed much by what was on offer.

While the courses from some institutes didn’t have a wide range of content, others did not offer adequate support to students for placements, which extremely importance to me.

After going through Imarticus Learning’s website and checking the courses and content on offer, I was convinced that the Data Science Prodegree was the right choice for me if I wanted to progress my career.

At Imarticus, I had access to an impressive faculty, which included professionals with substantial experience of working in the industry. They not only guided us through various aspects of the academics in our online education but also with our developing our overall personality to interact with recruiters and employers.”

Online education can help learners get back to their careers after long breaks.

8. Abhishek Bhattacharya

BTech student, Maharaja Surajmal Institute of Technology
Internshala user

“I had always been motivated to learn newer technological concepts and make relevant use of them, but I wasn’t familiar with any useful tutorials or trainings. After surfing the internet rigorously, I found a training module on Data Analytics.

I began my training with the excitement of building a project just after four weeks. The content was exquisite and perfect for a beginner with no or little knowledge of analytics.

The best part of taking up this online education training was that it gave me an edge during my job application. It was a group interview and I had to stand out from my peers to get the job.

The interviewer asked me why I wanted to work in IT despite being an electronics graduate. I told them that IT attracted me and that I had even built an analytics project, which was a core computer science project. I was asked to explain the project, and I did. The interviewers were satisfied and extended me a job offer.”

9. Rajani MP

Google Scholarship Recipient, Android Developer Nanodegree Student
Udacity user

“I am probably the oldest person in the Google Udacity Scholarship Programme. After my father’s death, I had to financially support my mother and family. I would work rigorously to provide for my mother and my own household.

My career saw consequences after I decided to start a family and perform my duties as a mother. In 2016, I again tried to restart my career in development. Working in the industry after such a long gap was a big challenge.

Less than two weeks into this new life, when I had just started getting the knack of this new development environment strongly based on community involvement and started managing my time efficiently, I was struck down with debilitating back pain that would not allow me to sit or stand or travel.

I was confined to the bed for most of the day with the illness and was advised about two months of Ayurveda treatment with complete bed rest. My career again took a halt.

Udacity Google Scholarship was more a like hope for restarting my career without having to compromise with the health. I can learn on the go with online education while cooking for my family’s dinner or during my bed-rest time.

From a novice to an android expert, Udacity Google Scholarship gave a new meaning to my life.”

10. Ashish Kumar

MCS-DS Student

“I have a full-time job, so I couldn’t go to campus, the cost, flexibility and other things you put all of it into consideration together, and I think online education is a phenomenal option.”

11. Shubham D

Software Analyst
Coursera user

After completing over ten courses in data science and programming, Shubham D landed a job as a content developer. He is currently working as a Software Analyst in Mumbai.

He joined Coursera after graduation, and it has helped him gain experience and develop and design his own website.

He completed The Data Scientists Toolbox, R Programming, Introduction to HTML5, Programming for Everybody, and a few other courses. He believes that these online education courses changed the way he viewed data science and gave him a new set of technical skills.

“After completing various data science courses on Coursera, I got an internship as a content developer using the programming languages I learned. I was able to showcase my course projects on web development, theory of computation, and graph theory when applying.

I recently became a mentor on Coursera, and have truly enjoyed helping others while learning from the questions that are being asked,” he said.

In these times of automation growth, online education can add to your skills and make sure you don’t become backdated and lose your job to a machine!

12. Kapil Arora

Student of Government Engineering College, RTU, startup owner
Internshala user

“I had an idea for a startup but I couldn’t implement it because I wasn’t familiar with web design. I thought of hiring a web developer, but it wasn’t economical for me, being a student. So, I decided to learn web development myself.

The next dilemma was how to learn it. I browsed the internet and after thorough research enrolled in an online education course. Once the training began, I was reassured that the quality and learnability of the training modules couldn’t get any better.

After the successful completion of my training and having gained enough knowledge and experienced, I went live with my own startup, Indian Mistry.”

13. Mohit More

Digital Marketing Nanodegree Graduate
Udacity user

“The novelty of education lies in the very act of learning. So why should learning be reduced to merely securing a college degree? It seemed to me that formal education had become too rigid, whereas online education was full of exciting opportunities.

I thought it would be far better to engage in real learning than to forcefully sit through lectures that I did not want to attend in the first place.

Fortunately for me, I discovered Udacity at the right point in my life and decided to pursue a course in Digital Marketing, for a career in Marketing and Business.”

14. Cheryl Shafer

iMBA student (year two MBA student at the University of Illinois)
Coursera user

“I’ve wanted to get my MBA, but doing it the traditional way just wasn’t possible. My online education experience has been hands down phenomenal. The quality of education has been without comparison.”

“Employers are increasingly evaluating online courses more formally for hiring and their internal training. Coursera certificates are the second most posted badges on LinkedIn which positively indicates the significance given by potential and current employers,” says Raghav Gupta, Director – India and APAC, Coursera.

Coursera’s 2017 Learners Outcome Survey revealed self-reported outcomes for people who have completed online courses on Coursera platform

“We found that 89 per cent of Indian online learners who identified career advancement as a primary motivation reported benefits like improving their job performance or starting a new career as compared to 84 per cent globally,” he adds.

.In India, 46 per cent of career builders reported to have become better in their job, and 39 per cent reported to have improved their candidacy for a new job, Gupta explains.

Thus, online education can truly make a difference in your academic or professional career – to being able to better understand topics to upskilling yourself and standing out from the rest of the students, online learning is the solution!